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S. 1276 (114th): Offshore Energy and Jobs Act of 2015

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The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress, and was published on May 11, 2015.


Offshore Energy and Jobs Act of 2015

This bill amends the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act to direct the Department of the Interior to make available for leasing, and conduct lease sales including, at least 50% of the available unleased acreage within each outer Continental Shelf (OCS) planning area in the Gulf of Mexico considered to have the largest undiscovered, technically recoverable oil and gas resources.

Each proposed oil and gas leasing program must include any state subdivision of an OCS planning area in the Gulf of Mexico requested by the governor of the state that represents that subdivision.

The Department must also make available for leasing under each five-year oil and gas leasing program any OCS planning area in the Gulf of Mexico estimated to contain more than 2.5 billion barrels of oil or 7.5 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

The bill also amends the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act of 2006 to:

redefine "Military Mission Line" as the western border of the Eastern Planning Area extending from Florida waters to the point that is 50 miles south in the Gulf of Mexico, and reduce the area subject to a moratorium on oil and gas leasing activities in the Central Planning Area off the coastline of Florida. Interior shall implement the Proposed Final Outer Continental Shelf Oil & Gas Leasing Program (2017-2022) in accordance with a specified schedule.

Interior must conduct lease sales in the Eastern Gulf of Mexico in accordance with a prescribed schedule for 2018, 2019, and 2020.

50% of qualified OCS revenues generated from OCS areas adjacent to Gulf producing states must be deposited into a special account in the Treasury, of which 75% shall be disbursed to Gulf producing states, and 25% for financial assistance to states for land and water conservation.

The bill increases, for FY2018-FY2055, the amount of qualified OCS revenues available for distribution to Gulf producing states.

Oil or natural gas exploration, development, or production on the OCS under a federal lease that would conflict with a military operation is hereby prohibited.

Interior must prepare a multisale environmental impact statement for all lease sales that are not included in the Proposed Final Outer Continental Shelf Oil & Gas Leasing Program (2017-2022). A Gulf producing state may enter into the offshore oil and gas leasing and development program described in that Program before publishing its programmatic environmental impact statement.

Interior must consult with the Environmental Protection Agency to assure coordination of air pollution control regulation for OCS emissions in adjacent onshore areas of Mississippi.

The National Marine Fisheries Service shall, by certain deadlines, act upon or deny a written request for incidental harassment authorization to conduct an activity under this Act regardless of whether it may result in incidental harassment of a marine mammal or marine mammal stock in the wild.

Interior must amend regulations to extend from 180 to 270 the number of remaining days of continuous operation of production under an oil, gas, or sulphur lease during which specified actions must be taken to renew the lease.

The bill prescribes guidelines for expedited judicial review of certain energy actions or decisions by a federal official regarding the leasing of offshore federal land in the OCS.

The Government Accountability Office shall report to Congress on the estimated costs of complying with major federal rules relating to offshore energy development and production activities on the OCS.